Bacterial Vaginosis: Everything You Need to Know

“Sex sometimes leads to BV if your partner’s natural genital ‘chemistry’ changes the balance of bacteria in your vagina and causes the bacteria associated with BV to grow,” Dean explains. “If you have BV, your sexual partner(s) with a penis generally does not need treatment for BV. BV may spread between partners with vaginas. Although BV is not an STI, having BV increases your chances of becoming infected with an STI, including HIV, if you are exposed to one. If you are HIV positive, untreated BV increases your chances of passing HIV along to your sex partners.”

What causes BV?

As noted by the CDC, the cause of BV isn’t known by researchers, but as mentioned before, having a new sex partner or multiple sexual partners can contribute to getting BV. Douching, using vaginal deodorants, or anything else that disrupts the vagina’s natural balance can also lead to BV.

Is there a treatment for BV?

Your healthcare provider can treat BV with antibiotics; the most common ones prescribed are Metronidazole, Metronidazole gel, or Clindamycin cream. Dean points out that while on any treatment for BV, you should refrain from having sex, as intercourse and other kinds of sexual activity could lead to discomfort or pain.

“Having sex may also make your symptoms worse and make your treatment less effective,” Dean adds, emphasizing that that treatment for BV is both easy and painless.

As far as home remedies are concerned, there aren’t any that are proven to be safe and effective, Dean notes. “There are no known natural remedies for BV that have been proven effective with sound evidence. You can help prevent BV by practicing good hygiene, never douching, and always using a condom. If you have BV that keeps coming back, probiotics might help,” she adds.

Can BV affect pregnancy?

According to the CDC, pregnant people who have symptoms of BV should be sure to get treated as soon as possible in order to avoid complications during pregnancy, such as preterm birth or delivery of a low birth-weight baby.

Can you cure BV in one day?

Many people want to get rid of BV in one day, and we totally get why — the faster you can get rid of the pain and discomfort, the better. A few single-day treatments do exist, but most of them haven’t been as well-researched and may be less effective than standard therapy, explains Dean.

There is one single-day treatment that appears to be as effective as standard therapy, Dean shares, pointing to secnidazole, which is administered orally in a single dose. However, it is much more expensive than other treatments. Ultimately, Dean recommends talking to your doctor or nurse about the best course of treatment for you.

My Personal Experience with Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis

I was 23 and about to go on a weekend trip with my new boyfriend. I had never heard of BV, and by the fifth day of itching, burning, and discharge, I misdiagnosed myself with a yeast infection. I didn’t want to wait for a doctor, so the night before my trip, I went to CVS and spent $30 on Monistat 1. I applied it before I went to bed, and the next morning, I woke up in some of the worst pain of my life. It was like being stung by 1,000 wasps at once. My vagina spent the weekend expelling the Monistat and ruining five pairs of cotton panties. As for me, I spent the weekend running to the bathroom every hour to apply Vagisil — but it barely helped.

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